To close or not to close schools? Superintendents say it’s a tough decision

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. -- During the winter weather the Tennessee Valley saw a few days ago, many school systems in the area closed. Area superintendents say that decision isn't an easy one to make.

When the weather looks like it's going to take a nasty turn, school systems across the Valley weigh the number one question: whether students and staff can make it to school safely. "We've got a very good relationship with our local EMA," Guntersville City Schools Superintendent Brett Stanton said, "Anita McBurnett, the director, does a very good job of staying in touch with me and the other local superintendents."

Marshall County EMA works with the local school systems to inform officials about weather scenarios that could pose problems.

The decision to close usually isn't black and white. "There are so many factors that come into play. It doesn't necessarily always boil down to ice and snow, but it also could be arctic air, because the concerns with the children waiting for the bus in the mornings,” Stanton explained.

Stanton adds they also keep in mind parents' needs. "From my standpoint, I try to make that decision as early as possible but also with as much information as possible, and sometimes that means it's the morning of the day that we would have school," Stanton said.

Working closely with the EMA allows the system to know the weather at hand, the threats it could pose, and to prepare accordingly. The school system staff also monitors the road conditions to help make a decision to close the schools.